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The one lesson I’ve learned from life: John Craven says make the most of the lucky times

The one lesson I’ve learned from life: Countryfile’s John Craven says make the most of the lucky times

  • John Craven, 81, who lives in Oxfordshire, is best known for Countryfile
  • During his 50 years on TV, presenter has learnt to make most of an opportunity 
  • Remembers getting the job on Newsround after auditioning as a young reporter 


John Craven, 81, is best known for his long-running roles presenting BBC Newsround and Countryfile. Awarded the OBE in 2000, the father of two adult daughters, Emma and Victoria and grandfather of five, lives in Oxfordshire with Marilyn, his wife of 50 years.

During my 50 years on TV I’ve had some lucky breaks, and the lesson I’ve learnt is to make the most of an opportunity when Lady Luck is riding with you.

As a young reporter on regional TV, I strolled into a studio one day to find auditions going on for a new children’s programme on BBC One.

‘Can I have a go?’ I asked, to be told the team had spent weeks selecting the right candidates. They must have liked my cheek, though, because they found a few minutes for me at the end of their long day. I got the job and that led to ‘John Craven’s Newsround’ [which first aired in 1972].

John Craven, 81, (pictured) who lives in Oxfordshire, has learnt to make the most of an opportunity

Seventeen years later, I left Newsround to find work in ‘grown-up’ TV. Unknown to me, the search was on for a presenter of a new rural affairs show called Countryfile. Once again, luck was on my side and I’m still there, three decades later.

Those are just two pieces of good fortune for which I’m grateful (50 years of happy marriage is another!), but there are, of course, times where luck seems to be wearing a little thin. I’ve always had good-health — hardly a day off work through illness — but, in my late 40s, my eyesight started to become blurred.

At first, I worried what people would say about my wearing spectacles on TV but there wasn’t a single comment. Then, in my 60s, my hearing began to fail. I couldn’t make out conversations in crowded places, the sounds of nature became muffled and ‘say it again’ started to become a common response.

When I had a routine check, I was told my levels had dropped by around 20 per cent since my first test in 2008. There seems to be something of a stigma about hearing aids and yet, these days, many of them are almost invisible. Mine even eliminate wind noise when I’m out.

I’m not complaining. I’ve realised my life reflects the words that Hollywood actor, Clark Gable, wanted on his tombstone: ‘He was lucky and he knew it!’

  • John Craven is an ambassador for Specsavers. 

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